CASPER, Wyo. — Roughly 60 pro-choice demonstrators marched from David Street Station to Pioneer Park on Saturday in the wake of the Supreme Court’s repudiation of federal protections for access to abortion.
Wyoming is the among the states that has passed a “trigger” law outlawing abortion in most circumstances once the Supreme Court’s decision has been certified by the state.
With the issue of abortion access now resting now most immediately on the states, organizers are looking to take the fight to state and national legislatures, banking on an awakening of the silent majority.
“We’re going to have to assert the views of the majority, which is us,” said Jane Ifland, who twice challenged Chuck Gray for the House District 57 Seat as a Democrat in general elections.
A recent CNN poll showed 66% of Americans wanted Roe v. Wade left intact. Broader support varied based on the circumstances and timing of the abortion.
A 2014 poll by the Pew Research Center found Wyoming citizens were about evenly split on the issue. Another polling service with over 64,000 votes on the issue finds 56% of Wyoming respondents hold pro-choice views and 44% hold pro-life views.
“I see a blue wave in the midterms,” said Steven Parlett, who wielded the megaphone during the march. He said he hoped that might lead to an expansion of the Supreme Court to dilute the conservative weight of three Donald Trump appointments, and the imposition of term limits for Justices.
House District 36 candidate Debra Cheatham, who spoke at the march, told Oil City that many underestimated the forces at work at the national and state to overturn abortion access. Wyoming’s trigger bill was passed earlier this year.
“I don’t think people realized the stakes,” Cheatham said. She is challenging incumbent Art Washut in the Republican Primary, and said the ban on abortion runs counter to the traditional Republican value of “non-intrusive government.”
“It was so harsh,” Cheatham said of the Dobbs v. Jackson decision overturning Roe. “And it was such a departure from historical jurisprudence under the Fourteenth Amendment. It’s about the right to privacy, and now they’re going to come for all of it. Gay rights… Justice [Clarence] Thomas, in his concurring opinion, has already indicated that that’s about to happen.”
House District 58 Rep Pat Sweeney, the lone Natrona County Republican to vote against the trigger bill, has warned that more extreme measures like removing exemptions from the current law and banning contraceptives have been floated in discussions among legislators.
Pro-choice advocates also worried the Dobbs decisions could set a precedent where miscarriages could become the subject of criminal investigations.
Like Wellspring Health Access founder Julie Burkhart, Cheatham indicated there may be leverage in Article 1, Section 38 of Wyoming’s own Constitution to overturn the state’s abortion ban.
Cheatham, who has practiced general law both privately and as an attorney for the town of Evansville, said she prefers quieter forms of civic duty, and is distressed that minority views on abortion have become law.
The only solution, she and other marchers said, is to engage in the political process.
“Every time you go to a candidate forum, make sure that you ask directly: ‘Do you support the right to abortion?’” Ifland told the crowd. “Don’t dance around it, and don’t let the candidate dance around it. “
“And you need to run,” Ifland added.
CORRECTION, July 14, 2022: The spelling of Eden Taggart’s name has been corrected. Eden’s mother was incorrectly identified as Eden in a photo, and that identification has been corrected.